Jamie Codd, Derek O’Connor and Barry O’Neill are three of the best amateur jockeys in the sport.
The trio are currently battling for the Irish Point to Point jockeys title, with O’Neill leading the way. He’s attempting to win the title for the first time, having come close in recent campaigns. Derek O’Connor has been top of the tree for more than a decade, having notched his first winner back in 2000. A point to point legend, he broke through the 1,000-winner barrier in 2015.
But it’s Jamie Codd that I wish to focus on for today’s piece. So often the bridesmaid to O’Connor, he’s stepped out of the shadows in the past few years, and has a pair of titles to his name. He’s also become one of the most familiar and successful amateur jockeys when riding under rules.
His record in the current campaign is quite staggering. Successful in the opener at the Punchestown Festival yesterday, Codd now has a strike-rate of 31%, with a stunning 33 wins from 102 rides in bumpers, and 5 victories from just 15 over fences. He’s also becoming the ‘go-to’ amateur for the big spring festivals, having had another fabulous Cheltenham in March. He rode a famous double on day two at Prestbury Park, when guiding Cause Of Causes to success in the Cross Country, and then winning the Champion Bumper aboard Gordon Elliott’s flying filly Fayonagh.
Codd’s association with Cause Of Causes has brought three Cheltenham Festival victories, and in April almost delivered the greatest success of his career, when coming close to landing the Grand National at Aintree. Codd gave the horse a perfect ride, moving into the front half dozen deep into the race, and delivering the McManus owned nine-year-old with his challenge at the last. Unfortunately for all concerned, One For Arthur had one extra gear from the last fence to the elbow, and maintained the advantage to the line.
The Wexford pilot had arrived at Punchestown with high hopes of further festival success. And he didn’t have to wait long, when guiding the favourite, Enniskillen to victory in the opening hunter chase. Further exciting rides lie ahead, starting today, when he is reunited with Elliott’s Champion Bumper winner Fayonagh. Codd can play his part in bringing valuable prize-money the way of the leading trainer. The mare is currently favourite to take the Grade 1 Champion Flat Race, though faces a talented bunch including the Gigginstown owned Poli Roi.
He then rides Minutestomidnight, who is well fancied to take the Mares Flat Race. A daughter of Vinnie Roe out of an Accordion mare, she was mightily impressive at Wexford earlier in the month. Codd was onboard on that occasion and must be relishing the opportunity of another ride on the exciting six-year-old.
It’s also been a busy winter for the leading amateur off the track. As the National Hunt season began in earnest, news arrived that Codd had landed a permanent role with Tattersalls Ireland. As the horses-in-training representative, he would have been in the thick of it during the winter sales at Ascot and Cheltenham.
At the time of his appointment, Tattersalls Ireland managing director Roger Casey said of Codd: “We are delighted to welcome Jamie to the team at Tattersalls Ireland on a permanent basis. He has a wealth of knowledge on the pointing and racing fields and an expansive network of contacts which we firmly believe will help the on-going development of our horses-in-training sales.”
On and off the racecourse, Jamie Codd is making his mark on the sport. Expect the man from Wexford to create a few more headlines before this Punchestown Festival is over.